Inspiration Information –Reed Sandridge

by aaron on August 15, 2010

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them.  So, spread your love everywhere you go. ” –Mother Teresa

Last year, like so many other struggling Americans hard-hit by the economic tailspin, Reed Sandridge lost his job.  He was a manager at the American Heart Association nonprofit in Washington, a time-consuming but inspiring job built around the core principle of helping others in need.  When he was fired, Reed found himself struggling not only to pay his mortgage, but also what to do to fill the sudden aimless chasm of time .  Of course he looked for new jobs, filled out applications, sent in resumes.  But the rest of his days began to unravel in that strange freedom of doing anything he pleased.

Now imagine for a moment that you have all the time in the world to do whatever you wanted… what would that be?  For me I’d spend my days hiking remote mountains, wandering the beaches, reading books… basically pursuing my own selfish pleasures.  Not Reed Sandridge.  His desire to help others in need, even when he himself became suddenly a member of the needy ranks, did not diminish with his dwindling savings.  In fact, that desire got stronger.

And so on Dec 16, 2009, one week before Christmas, Reed began what he coins “The Year of Giving”.  The idea is that everyday Reed finds someone who could use help and gives them $10.  Now it doesn’t sound like much.  We all know $10 won’t save anyone’s life.  But remember that rush of euphoria you felt when you found a wayward $10 floating down the street?  It’s the little unexpected and random acts of kindness that surprise and uplift our day, that perhaps catalyze the paradigm shift in attitude that help pull us out of the rollercoaster karmic ebb-flow into a positive state of mind.

And it is this attitude of giving and gratitude that Reed is hoping to foster in others.  The money is just a symbol, an expression of care.  The truth is, what most people are really looking for after the base needs of food, water, and shelter are provided — is acknowledgment and respect.  Two simple things we could all benefit a little more of on a daily basis.  Everytime Reed gives ten dollars, he first spends time with that person.  He listens to their story, he acknowledges their humanity.  And he videotapes each small mini-docs on his flip camera and posts them up on his daily blog (which i recommend following the link to check out).

By the end of the project Reed will have given out $3650 from his own limited personal savings.  And you could argue that all together that money could have made a significant difference directed on one individual, perhaps an orphan in Haiti or a cripple in India.  You could argue that Reed has diffused his goodwill into bitesize chunks of charity that leave a good taste but don’t satiate the desperate appetite.  But just look at the people and stories he shares.  365 inspiring snippets of individuals struggling through adversity with smiles on their faces.  All together Reed is inadvertently creating a compelling snapshot of humanity.  It’s more than just giving money, he’s spreading Love everywhere he goes.

As Reed’s brother Ryan Sandridge reflects: “He forces attention to people who are usually ignored.  I hope others maybe slow their life down just a little bit and see that there’s more than just the daily grind. I don’t know if that’s part of his message or not — but that’s one of the things I take out of it. Look around, pay more attention, be more giving.

Aside from just the daily gift, Reed also posts a Lend a Hand list on his blog where readers/followers can contribute to helping the people Reed has met with bigger needs in their lives.  Whether it’s helping Ron find a construction job, or guitarist Bill book some new gigs.  It’s a personalized bulletin board of altruism in which anyone can easily jump in and get involved.

Thanks Reed for the beautiful inspiration.  Yet another example of a simple idea with a big impact.  It just reminds me again that making a difference doesn’t require grand gestures.  Often it’s the small things that spread the greatest Love.

So look around you.  Pay attention.  There is opportunity to be more giving everywhere.  Don’t hesitate, give now.  I gaurantee you’ll discover you are actually giving to yourself.

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